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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

In other parts of the world, particularly since World War II, the death rate has precipitously declined mainly because of imported medical and other technologies. However, fertility has generally remained at a high level in these developing countries. The inevitable result has been an unprecedentedly high rate of population growth, called the transitional growth stage of demographic change (6), in contrast to the posttransitional, or modern, stage that has been reached by western countries. The problem facing the developing countries is to accomplish the transition from high to low fertility quickly enough to enhance their economic and social development. Whether they can make this transition without the help of induced abortion is a worldwide concern.
Though documentation is not readily available, it is believed that abortion played a significant role in lowering fertility during the demographic transition in many western societies. More conclusive evidence linking abortion and demographic transition exists for Japan, where an accelerated transition from high to low fertility occurred within an unprecedentedly short time span.
This paper will consider some of the major issues concerning induced abortion and demographic change in both developed and developing countries. In particular, the following questions are considered:
1.   When developing societies are highly motivated to accomplish or accelerate the transition from high to low fertility, do they usually pass through a phase in which induced abortion becomes a popular method of fertility control?
2.   In other words, what should be anticipated when low fertility determinants prevail? Will widespread practice of induced abortion occur in response to increased modernization and urbanization?
3.   If large-scale induced abortion is somehow forcibly suppressed, what will the effects be? Will the demographic transition be retarded? Will women resort to illegal abortion despite the risks?
4.  Can the phase of large-scale induced abortion be avoided, or controlled, in developing countries without slowing down their demographic transition? How effective are contraceptive programs in lowering the incidence of abortion?
5.   In countries that have achieved a low fertility level, what success can be attributed to the liberalization of abortion laws? Should high fertility countries liberalize their abortion laws as well?
For the purpose of discussing these issues, countries are arrayed in two main categories: transitional and posttransitional. Then they are further divided according to their abortion lawsórestrictive or liberalized, as shown in Table 1.
Although there are difficulties inherent in making international comparisons, the effort here is to put the available statistics together as meaningfully as possible. It is only fair to admit at the onset that in many countries